- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Nationals finally met their new bosses.

New Nationals owner Ted Lerner, his son, Mark, and team president Stan Kasten officially introduced themselves yesterday in a closed-door clubhouse meeting just before batting practice.

“They spoke their piece and introduced everybody from ownership, a calm and quick meet-and greet,” shortstop Royce Clayton said. “They said if we had any questions or any concerns that they’re here to help facilitate those things.”

The officials started assembling the club’s new front office yesterday as Kasten named Bob Wolfe as the Nationals’ executive vice president. Wolfe, who worked for Kasten with the Atlanta Braves, is second-in-command and replaces Kevin Uhlich.

Kasten appointed three senior vice presidents.

• Al Maldon (senior vice president for external affairs), who also is part of the ownership group, will deal with legislative and governmental affairs. He’ll also head the Washington Nationals Foundation and community relations.

• Mike Shapiro (senior vice president for business affairs) worked with Kasten as a staff lawyer in Atlanta during the construction of Turner Field. For the past year, Shapiro has worked as a consultant to the Lerners in their efforts to be awarded the franchise.

• Tom Ward (senior vice-president for marketing) will oversee all revenue-generating functions, branding and sponsorship. Ward, who is from the District, has also worked in the NBA and NHL.

“What’s significant about today, is now we can start communicating with the [existing] front office,” Kasten said. “Bob and Tom and Al and Mike have been working feverishly with me behind the scene. Now, we can start to connect their pieces with the most important resource, and that’s our staff.”

As for the club’s incumbent front-office staff, Kasten said he doesn’t plan on a wholesale housecleaning.

Minor leaguer suspended

Greg Thissen, a reserve second baseman for the Nationals’ Class AAA New Orleans Zephyrs, yesterday was suspended 50 games for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Thissen tested positive for a drug of abuse, which means he wasn’t suspended for using performance-enhancing steroids.

Until this season, Thissen, who turns 25 next week, played only at the Class A level and split time between the Potomac Nationals and the Vermont Lake Monsters, of the short-season New York-Penn League. Thissen is hitting .224 in 22 games.

No surgery for Day

A saline-enhanced MRI revealed that right-hander Zach Day will not require right shoulder surgery. Day, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, will receive a cortisone shot and then begin a rehab program under the guidance of the Nationals training staff.

Extra bases

The Nationals won’t make a decision on who will start Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers until possibly tomorrow. With next Thursday being an off day, the Nationals are reluctant to make a roster move to call up a pitcher for Saturday’s game and then wait 10 days before his next start.

The Nationals were leaning toward calling up right-hander Shawn Hill from New Orleans, but may wait and possibly use the bullpen for Saturday’s game. General manager Jim Bowden didn’t rule out a trade for a pitcher before Saturday. …

If all goes well tomorrow in Pedro Astacio’s rehab start with Potomac, the right-hander will be transferred next week to New Orleans. Astacio, who opened the season on the DL with a strained right forearm, then would remain with the Zephyrs until he was ready to return to the Nationals.

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To

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